FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Afghan Opium Trade Back in Business

by Patrick Cockburn In Kabul

Despite promises to crack down on the drugs trade, the new Afghan government has evicted the main drug control agency from its headquarters in Kabul and taken its vehicles.

“They literally threw us into the street,” said Mir Najibullah Shams, the Secretary-General of the State High Commission for Drug Control. “I don’t have a phone to call up commanders in the provinces. They didn’t even leave us with a bicycle.”

The contempt with which the new Afghan administration has treated its main drugs agency bodes ill for any attempt to curtail opium and heroin production in Afghanistan. This is despite promises by the new administration at the summit on aid to Afghanistan in Tokyo this week that it would try to reduce the flow of narcotics out of the country in return for $4.5bn (?3.2bn) from donors.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest exporter of heroin and provides about 80 per cent of Western Europe’s supply and an even higher proportion of heroin used in Russia and Central Asia. Between a third and a half of the Afghan population is believed by experts to be involved in growing, producing or trafficking in narcotics.

Mr Shams, who has taken refuge in a room in the Afghan Foreign Ministry, showed a number of maps illustrating the huge increase in the mid-nineties in the number of provinces growing opium poppies. Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, had successfully banned the planting of poppies in 1999, but the collapse of central government control in much of Afghanistan in the last two months may mean that farmers will once again produce opium.

The former headquarters of the High Commission for Drug Control is a substantial three-storey building which has been taken over by a newspaper called Payam-I-Mujaihid which supports the government. Mr Shams admits that its 300 employees were never able to do very much about narcotics because “until you solve the problems of the Afghan farmers they will produce drugs. What do you expect them to do when they are dressed in rags and their children have nothing to eat?”

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail